Blackbeard extended his unbeaten run to three with an impressive success in the GAIN Marble Hill Stakes at the Curragh.
Trained by Aidan O’Brien and ridden by Ryan Moore, Blackbeard was a Dundalk maiden winner in April before making the leap to Listed success at this track earlier in the month.
Moore was happy to let him bowl along in front in this six-furlong contest and the further he went, the better he looked – changing up a gear in the final furlong to easily see off evens favourite Tough Talk by three and a half lengths.
Betfair make him a 4-1 chance from 7-1 for the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot and O’Brien believes Berkshire will be the next port of call.
“We weren’t exactly sure that he would get six, Ryan thought the last day that he would and obviously he got it very well,” said O’Brien.
“He relaxed very well and quickened very well, that’s what you’d really love about him.
“No Nay Never is usually an influence for speed, which is good, but some of them don’t get beyond sprinting distances. Looking at this horse there is every chance that he could.
“The first day he was very green in Dundalk and then he just won here the next day, his first run on grass and obviously he learned a lot from that and came forward a lot.
“You’d have to say he’s a Coventry type horse. We thought he’d be either a Norfolk or Coventry horse. We ran him today to see could he be a Coventry and you couldn’t say he didn’t pass that test.
“He can go either way I think.”
Hellsing (11-2) made a winning start for Ger Lyons and Colin Keane in the Tally Ho Stud Irish EBF (C&G) Maiden.
The Dandy Man colt finished with purpose in the six-furlong affair to deny O’Brien’s 13-8 favourite Congo River by half a length.
“That was lovely, he’s a typical Dandy Man,” said Lyons.
“We’ve had success with Dandy Man before first time out, we’ve always liked him but he has to back it up for me before I get high about him.
“He was bought with the Goffs Million in mind and I wanted to start him over six. He was to start a few weeks ago but had a bit of a dirty nose and that’s why we waited.
“If he hadn’t run today he was going to go straight into a seven-furlong race.
“He was shouting and roaring before the race and for one of mine he was very green. He did it well, on pure raw ability.
“We’ll see how he comes out of it but ultimately he was bought for the Goffs Million and we’ll work back from there.
“He’s a gorgeous horse, his brother (Navagio) won last night and he’s a gorgeous looking horse as well, so obviously the mare knows how to throw them. We’re happy to have them.”
Raise You (5-2) showed a smart turn of foot to come home three and a half lengths clear in the Listed Hanlon Concrete Orby Stakes for trainer Joseph O’Brien and jockey Shane Crosse.
The handler said: “The plan was to come here and get a nice start to the season. Settling and going up in trip has probably been the making of him over his past couple of runs.
“I thought Shane gave him a lovely confident ride today and I’m delighted to get a stakes win under his belt.
“I’m delighted to have a nice horse like this fella and hopefully there is better to come.
“I’d hope he might have achieved more by now, but maybe the best is yet to come.”
Mashhoor (7-1) led home a one-two for trainer Johnny Murtagh as he saw off Safecracker by four lengths under Shane Kelly in the William Hill Handicap.
Murtagh said: “There is fierce excitement there among the owners.
“He ran very well in Cork on his first run and he had a very good draw today, and was given a very good ride by Shane.
“There wasn’t much between our two at home, this lad probably had a better preparation.
“He’s probably mentally immature but is toughening up into it now and being by Kingman I’d say he has loads of class.
“There are handicaps in Ascot and that’s what we are in it for. The owners have had a great day at the Curragh and we’ll roll on to Ascot, if everything is OK, and have a shot there.”
Murtagh made it a double with the Ben Coen-ridden Chicago Bear in the closing William Hill Best Odds Guaranteed Handicap.
Royal Ascot could be the next port of call for Fiach McHugh (3-1) after his victory in the seven-furlong FBD Hotels And Resorts Handicap.
Winning trainer Andrew Slattery said: “I think he’ll get a mile ridden like that, we settled today out the back.
“We might give him an entry in the Britannia Stakes at Ascot.”